And it needs to change
Rising prices are expected as time goes on. Because of inflation prices naturally rise over the years. However, this doesn’t excuse for some of the rampant price-gouging that is going on in today’s marketplace. Prices are rising too quickly overall and wonder has to wonder at what point will brands begin to get burned by rising prices so quickly and so often. The recent Predator Mania re-release is a prime example of this because it’s $350! Three five zero. Absolute daylight robbery. I want to give a shout out to Bryan from SoccerCleats101 who was the inspiration for this article after he wrote about the ridiculous expense of the new Mania re-release. This article will be a general take on the market as a whole.
With the rise of re-releases, we have also seen a rise in prices to go with them. Every new release seems to spark the same discussion and it’s always how to figure how to afford buying another pair of boots having just bought a pair. When the brands stack releases so much, you have to pick and choose, especially if it’s a limited edition. Even regular releases have seen their prices rise. A regular Vapor now goes for $250 which is mind-blowing. I wouldn’t be surprised to the prices creep up even more with the next generation of Vapors. It is possible to come to the conclusion that part of the reason brands can get away with this is because of the existence of two high-end price points. For example, adidas having the 19+ and 19.1 versions in every silo. Because of the comparative pricing between the two, $225 doesn’t seem “as expensive” as the $280 to $300 price point.
Even brands outside of the big three are starting to raise prices beyond what’s has been expected of them. While Mizuno’s prices in Europe in the US have been fairly high because of their made in Japan boots, in Japan prices rarely went above $200. The first Rebula was well-received, except for the price which was around $260 in Japan. It is true that this was still less than the international market, but in Japan it caused a lot of conversation as Mizuno wasn’t “supposed” to have prices that high. In some ways the sticker shock on the Rebula series paved the way for limited edition boots to come in around the same price point. Although the boots are hand made in Japan, it only makes it slightly easier to swallow than the prices for boots that big brands are asking for and I still think they should be cheaper.
For a long time, $200 seemed to be the highest price point for brands. I have mentioned this before that Nike’s first Superfly hit the $300 price point and the Superfly II hit $400. Poor sell-through and the fact that not only the market was flooded with them, but also the boots weren’t particular great to begin with, caused Nike to re-asses their strategy. The market crash in 2008 didn’t help either. But these days we are back to the above $300 price points and at some point the market will crash and unfortunately the brands that will get hurt the most will be the brands who have been the most guilty of this price-gouging.
Brands know they can get away with this because of desirability and brand loyalty. Because social media is a much bigger deal than it was ten years ago, the market has changed and desirability has increased. Especially in the case of limited edition drops, the hype almost ensures that the boots will sell through, in spite of the high price points. The also is the same for launch editions of new lines because again, hype. The brand loyalty is stronger than it has ever been in my lifetime, especially for Nike, which is approaching cult-like status. In some ways, the prices are becoming irrelevant for some people because they will buy the newest product, whatever the price.
At this point I’d like to reference a term used in the video game industry which I think holds relevance for football boots as well. The term “whale” is used by video game executives and refers to someone who tends to spend the more than anyone else on microtransactions and the like in games. Video game companies are constantly thinking of ways to squeeze more and more money out of these people because they are blinded by short-sighted success rather than long-term sustainability. I would argue that in a lot of ways this came be used when we talk about football boot collectors and influencers. Brands seem to be purposely and repeatedly targeting the people who are most likely to buy the limited editions and launch editions that these brands release. Brands know that the average customer isn’t likely to spend upwards of $300 several times a year on boots but they do know that these “whales” will. Just like the video game industry, it’s incredibly short-sighted and is not sustainable. What’s worse is I think it reveals just how greedy some of these brands are. It also plays into the hands of resellers and grifters by making these boots so limited edition.
Not everybody who works for these companies agrees with this. For almost every brand outside of Nike, the focus these days seems to be on how to make sure the product sells-through. There are a lot of people who constantly work at this issue to make sure the market doesn’t get flooded with product. Unfortunately for them, this is almost always undermined by people who make the decisions on releases and the like. But there is a very easy way to guarantee to make sell-through higher – make the boots cheaper! Drop the prices of boots and stop being so greedy all of the time. Pursue actual long-term strategies rather than trying to constantly fleece the “whales” and other people to make as money in the short-term as possible. It will make stores and customers trust these companies more if they stopped appearing to be so greedy by asking for some much money for boots.
Boots should be cheaper. Across all brands.
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Photo Credits: TheSoccerCorner.com, UnisportStore.com